Are Faberge eggs from Russia

100th anniversary of Peter Carl Fabergé's deathThe most famous "egg man" in the world

Auctioned at Christie's in London in November 2007. Hundreds of spectators watch a bidding battle for an Easter egg. This one, however, is made of gold and pink enamel, with a built-in clock, and the tip opens at the top of the hour. A tiny rooster appears, flaps its wings, nods its head, and crows. And it bears a stamp that ecstatic collectors: Fabergé. The tsar's court jeweler had fifty of these precious eggs for Alexander III between 1885 and the First World War. and Nicholas II as Easter presents for Tsaresses Maria and Alexandra, as well as a dozen for other customers. The pink clock egg was an engagement present for the bride of a Rothschild. At Christie's, meanwhile, the hammer falls: sold for eight million pounds.

The gift-happy Romanovs as major customers

Peter Carl Fabergé did not make these masterpieces of goldsmithing with his own hand. Designers and hundreds of highly specialized craftsmen worked for the most famous jeweler of his time. In 1872, at the age of twenty-six, he took over his father's flourishing but unspectacular business in Saint Petersburg and thirteen years later brought it to the purveyor to the court - not a monopoly, but a guarantee for large orders: jewelry for state occasions, silverware for the trousseau of grand duchesses and Tons of gifts that the tsars handed out as generously as candy would be given out by a carnival prince.

A little attention at Easter, honey: This Fabergé egg made of nephrite, gold and diamonds was presented to his wife by a gold mine owner at Easter 1901. (akg-images)

"Official gifts consisted of tobacco boxes, cigarette cases, rings, brooches, cufflinks and tie pins; they were manufactured in certain price categories," reports Franz Birbaum, Fabergé's long-time chief designer. Luxury gift items became the heart of Fabergé's business and propelled him to the top of the international guild. The Romanovs presented their branched relatives in European royal houses and monarchs all over the world with handicrafts from Fabergé. Tsarina Maria showered her sister, the wife of the Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII of England, with his precious odds and ends.

Europe's nobility takes the handle

"There are people who already have enough diamonds and pearls. Giving jewels is sometimes not appropriate. Then such a little thing is the right thing," said Peter Carl Fabergé once in an interview. He had fashionable accessories, umbrella handles, belt buckles and lorgnons, practical items for everyday use such as hairbrushes, letter openers, table bells to summon the servant and diamond-studded crochet hooks, and the trinkets with which the salons of the era were filled: photo frames, confectionary boxes, miniature furniture and small animal figures. Peter Carl Fabergé himself resided in a magnificent residential and commercial building near the Winter Palace.

An undated photochromic image shows the court jeweler of Tsar Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920). (Fine Art Images)

"Every afternoon between four and five o'clock the entire aristocracy of Saint Petersburg could be seen there," said Birbaum. The Queen came to browse the only foreign branch in London in person. Exquisitely crafted, in an infinite variety, elegant, also playful and bizarre - at Fabergé there was something for every taste, no matter how unusual. Tsar Nicholas honored Kaiser Wilhelm II with a miniature cannon decorated with gold ornaments. Edward VII is said to have refused an expensive gift with the words: "Go to Fabergé, you have a cigar lighter in the shape of a hippopotamus in nephrite. If you want to give me something, give me that. I am sure it will only cost you Half and it's amusing. "

With the Russian Revolution, Fabergé's world came to an end

Fabergé's clients included American millionaires, Indian maharajas and the King of Siam. But while the Russian courtiers enjoyed his toys, things were fermenting in the empire. The world war and the revolution brought down Peter Carl Fabergé's world. He died in Switzerland on September 24, 1920. That was where he got sick and broken after escaping Russia, like many of his previous clients.